Saturday, August 6, 2016

Year C, Proper 15, Hebrews 11:29 - 12:2, "By Faith"

"The Peter Principle" states that "a person is promoted to the level of their own incompetence, where they remain".  Written in part as satire, in part as management theory, the basic concept is that because people are promoted on the basis of their competencies demonstrated in a current position, they will continue to be promoted until they reach a point at which they are no longer competent, at which point the promotions will stop.  

I offer "Dave's Corollary to the Peter Principle":  People are called to the level of their own incompetence, so that they must live by faith.  Were all things possible for us, given our own abilities and understandings, we simply would rely upon those competencies and trust in our own capacity to get things done.  That's human nature, pure and simple.  And God has no part in it.

"Then who can be saved?", the disciples asked.  "For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible."  (Matthew 19:25-26)

""My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness." So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me."  (2 Cor 12:9)

I could think the faith, but I could not write, nor could I speak.  My English 101 professor in college once read portions of a paper I had written to the class as an example of someone who was bright, and had good thoughts to express, but who entirely lacked the language skills to do so effectively.  Public speaking also petrified me.  Of all the academic disciplines, language arts were my downfall.  Mathematics, geometry, these were areas where I excelled.  I struggled to write or to speak. I simply was incompetent in those areas.  And then, I was called into the ministry.

"My grace is sufficient for you."

If faith is anything, it is this:  That confronted with our own inabilities, we trust in another.

"By Faith" begins this marvelous passage from Hebrews.  The entirety of salvation history encapsulated in these two words.  By faith Abraham. . .  By faith Moses. . .  And so this litany of faith begins and continues throughout all time.  In every generation, countless examples of God doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.  By faith. . .

And then in the present moment, confronted with that which we cannot do, we hear these words anew, "by faith".  We call to mind the memory of God's gracious work in ages past, and trust that once again, his grace will suffice.  By faith. . .

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